Briefly Noted … Solar Energy

BP says solar is limited; Spanish bank finances solar projects; Belgium company builds PV plant; China moves into top ten countries for solar; world’s highest PV plant set up.

– The world’s third largest oil company, BP, says it is committed to expanding its role as the world’s largest solar producer, but it does not think the solar industry will expand by more than 0.1 percent of total energy growth in the next decade. BP will invest heavily in solar but says it must realistic about the percentage of the global energy market that renewables will capture. – The Spanish Bank, Banco Santander Central Hispano SA , has signed an agreement with the Instituto para la Diversificacion y Ahorro de la Energia to finance incentives for solar energy projects. IDAE has earmarked a total of 2 billion pesetas to subsidize and promote solar installations this year, as part of the Spanish government’s plans to develop renewable energy to 12 percent of the country’s energy by 2010. – A new company will build a manufacturing plant for photovoltaic cells and modules in Teinen, Belgium, that will have an annual capacity of 2.5 to 4 million solar cells. Electrabel, TotalFinaElf and Imec will invest 10 million euros in Photovoltech, that could produce 10 percent of Europe’s solar cells. – The world’s highest solar energy plant has been set up in Sikkim province, India, at an altitude of 14,000 feet. The 2.2 kW plant, designed by the West Bengal Renewable Energy Development Agency, will shed light on the 2 km2 Himalayan Mountaineering Institute base camp. The PV panels and other equipment were transported to the camp on yaks. – China says it has moved into the top ten countries that make solar cells, with the opening of a single crystal silicon production line that has the capacity to manufacture 16 MW of solar cells and components. Yingli New Energy Resources is located in Baoding National New & High-tech Industrial Developing Zone in Hebei, and the facility was approved in 1999 by the Chinese State Development Planning Commission to construct the largest Chinese polysilicon solar cell production facility. – The German firm, Sunways AG, has reached agreement to supply DM 4.3 million of solar cells a year to Italian solar module manufacturer, S.E. Project. The deal involves DM 13 million of multicrystalline Sunways cells by 2004. Sunways says two thirds of next year’s production has already been sold to customers. – SolarAmp, a North Carolina solar energy company, is providing US$500,000 for North Carolina State University to develop a molecular-based solid-state solar cell. One target is to develop a flexible, lightweight solar cell, and SolarAmp is providing funding for the purchase of research instrumentation. – One of four draft resolutions approved without a vote by the Second Committee (Economic & Financial) of the UN General Assembly, concerns the promotion of renewable sources of energy, including implementation of the World Solar Programme 1996-2005. The resolution would have the United Nations reiterate its call on relevant funding institutions and donors, as well as regional funding institutions and non-governmental organizations, to support efforts for the development of the renewable energy sector in developing countries. – The Farrington Daniels Award for outstanding intellectual leadership in renewable energy has been awarded to Roland Winston, chief scientist for Duke Solar. Winston’s work in non-imaging solar optics has developed technology to concentrate sunlight at 84,000 times the natural level of earth-surface sunlight, and the technology has resulted in products to cool buildings, generate electricity, provide heat for industrial processes, irradiate material surfaces and to pump lasers. Duke Solar uses the technology in concentrating solar collectors to improve efficiency. The award is presented every two years by the International Solar Energy Society in memory of a founder of ISES and a University of Wisconsin professor who was a pioneer in renewable energy. – New Energy Corp will be listed on the OTC Bulletin Board under the symbol NECO. The U.S. solar company uses High Concentration Photovoltaic technology to deliver electrical and thermal solar energy. – NASA and the French Space Agency have launched the Jason 1 satellite to observe global climate interaction between the sea and the atmosphere as a result of stored solar energy. Launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, it joins the older Topex Poseidon satellite, and will map variations in ocean surface topography to monitor world ocean circulation, study interactions of the oceans and atmosphere, improve climate predictions and observe events like El Nino for a planned three year mission. – Two astronauts from the space shuttle Endeavour completed their spacewalk to repair the International Space Station’s solar panels, which had been damaged by fluctuating temperatures in outer space, which can vary between 93 and -129oC. For four hours, Linda Godwin and Daniel Tani wrapped thermal blankets around the base of the station’s 240-foot solar arrays.

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